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Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Range: What Can You Expect In This Use Case?

Update: Check out this innovative Real Time Location Bluetooth Low Energy Application built with Symphony Link: www.AirFinder.com

Let’s tell a little (fictitious) Internet of Things, electrical engineering story, shall we? Two friends, both engineers and fitness fanatics, recently opened a business with multiple obstacle courses in the parking lot of an old warehouse. They’re looking to capitalize on the fitness trend while offering a fun outing of tire flips, trampolines, and rope climbs for an afternoon.

But they know a key selling point they’re missing is data. People want to know how far they traveled, top speed, how long it took to complete, and how they did against other top competitors. They know they need a wireless tracking device to place on contestants, so they set out to build it themselves.

Being engineers, they want to know what to expect if they use Bluetooth Low Energy (also know as Bluetoo LE or Bluetooth 4.0) as the wireless technology to send and receive data. Here is the scenario and Bluetooth LE range expectations:

Bluetooth LE Range Calculations:

Antenna: The antenna is installed inside of the block-wall building on the second floor.

Receiver: Data will be transmitted down to the partners in the parking lot, with the receiver one meter off the ground.

    Bluetooth LE
  TX Antenna Height (m)   6
  TX Power (dBm)   4
  TX Antenna Gain (dB)   0
  Frequency (MHz)   2400
  RX Antenna Height (m)   1
  RX Antenna Gain (dB)   -6
  Structure Loss (dB)   11
  Sensitivity (dBm)   -93
  Margin (dB)   20
  Range   77

(Note: 11dB structure loss consistent with propagation through an 8" masonry block wall)

With one antenna on the second floor, the expected Bluetooth Low Energy range is 77 meters. That’s not enough to cover the entire lot. They search for other options beyond Bluetooth 4.0:

Want to learn about what we’re building at Link Labs? Click below to learn about the system with 2594 meters of range (using the same assumptions).

IoT Protocol Selection White Paper

Written by Brian Ray

Brian is the Founder and CTO of Link Labs. As the chief technical innovator and leader of the company, Brian has led the creation and deployment of a new type of ultra long-range, low-power wireless networking which is transforming the Internet of Things and M2M space.

Before starting Link Labs, Brian led a team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab that solved communications and geolocation problems for the national intelligence community. He was also the VP of Engineering at the network security company, Lookingglass, and served for eight years as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and received his Master’s Degree from Oxford University.


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